Thursday, February 02, 2012

Indiana RTW Law Passes

Both houses of the Indiana state legislature passed the Right To Work bill and the governor signed it into law yesterday. To me this was a very courageous act. Standing up to intimidation from union enforcers isn’t an easy thing to do for anyone.

Simply put, the law states that an employer is no longer bound to make an employee pay union dues as a requirement for employment.

Odd, none of the major media outlets both traditional and online made mention of it.

The local paper reported it this morning and the comment section is an interesting read. But why isn’t a large setback for big labor such as this generating major news? Could it be seen as an admission of weakness for the current national party in power? Especially since Indiana is a major Midwest manufacturing state? Soon, other states will use the Indiana example and join in to give their citizens a right to work.

Unions get little sympathy from me.

As a high school junior I worked at a local grocery store. Burger’s Supermarkets had three locations in northwest Indiana. My job was to bag customer groceries and place them on a large stand up wheel cart. Then I would travel with the customer to their vehicle and place the bags in the trunk or back seat.

Because membership in the Retail Clerk's Union was required to be an employee at Burger’s we made a few cents more than those working in a non-union store. We were not permitted to accept tips from customers due to the union/store agreement. Taking a tip was grounds for termination with zero union support. We made $1.70 per hour as part-time baggers in 1970. But it never stopped me from taking tips that would be anywhere from 25¢ to $1. On my best day I made about $5 in tips.

One assistant manager named Danny would go up on the roof usually on Saturdays equipped with binoculars. His mission was to catch the greedy baggers so he could fire them in order to set an example for the rest of us. In my two years at Burger’s he caught and fired three baggers.

No way would I turn down a tip since my future was not in the grocery business. If I got fired it would never appear on my resume anyway so good luck, Danny. Catch me if you can. He never did.

Considering there were large signs at the exit of the store telling customers that it was a Burger’s service policy to bag and deliver groceries so there was no need to tip, many older ladies ignored the signs. Danny told us there were secret shoppers that would tempt us with a tip, and if we took the tip the shopper would report our name. Guess I never carried groceries for his wife.

Union dues were taken out of our checks. I don’t recall how much but it was considerable for a kid making $1.70 per hour and I was not alone. We all thought we were being ripped off. That was my last job ever belonging to a union. I found a better job pumping gas and adding quarts of oil to cars for $2.25 and didn't need to be a union member.

In my hometown there were many union workers with families, I was friends with guys who had union dads. They worked at the Standard Oil refinery, Inland Steel, US Steel and their vendor support companies.

It was easy to know if a family was union. Their garages were loaded with tools stolen from the mills. One friend told me his dad said it was part of his pay, since the cash they paid to him was so low. It was taken for granted. But it was still breaking the law. Nobody cared since they all did it.

After graduation many of my friends got union mill jobs because of their dads. After a few years I heard every trick they used to get out of doing an honest day’s work. Where they could hide, how they got others to punch their time clock, the best way to steal tools were all revealed over a few beers. They were genuinely proud of their lack of accomplishment while still getting paid handsomely. They boasted in order to make us non-union folks and students seeking a higher education feel jealous.

This was all I needed to know to formulate my opinion of unions at an early age. Since then, whenever I read about how unions operate and cooperate with corrupt politicians and organized crime it only reinforced what I already knew.

What I do know is unions were once a necessary organization that protected workers. That was a long time ago. Since then they have become a political cash laundering machine and a ruthless enforcement tool. Brainwashed workers support unions without question. Considering that unions have driven a lot of manufacturing jobs out of the country, that is a puzzling thought. Workers are now owned by the unions and have little to say so they just go along to get along.

Since we have OSHA, the EPA and the NLRB why is there a need for unions? The same politicians that seem to have benefited most from unions have inadvertently replaced their usefulness.

A friend of a friend recently was hired by one of the steel mills. After not seeing his friend for a few weeks he asked how his job was going. The reply was, ”I haven’t started work, I’ve been going through union orientation.” When asked what he learned in orientation the guy replied, “how to grieve.”

Not to say that there are no hard working union workers, there are. But just as many are lazy, thieving and grieving cretins who cannot be terminated because of their union membership.

I have a few steelworker union friends that hunt with me. Good guys, hard workers. When I asked about the RTW law they shrugged it off. Even if it passes all the guys will still pay their dues along with any new hires, they agreed. Paying dues, one told me, is much cheaper than replacing busted windshields, sliced pickup truck tires or trips to the emergency room and intensive care.

RTW will not bust unions. What it threatens is the union’s ability to grow. It is intended to attract new manufacturers to set up plants in Indiana. A lot of Illinois businesses are expected to relocate as well as ones from far away.

There were heated RTW arguments locally. The anti-RTW protests in Indianapolis were conducted mostly by union workers, not a bunch of college slackers and bussed in paid protesters like in Madison Wisconsin last year. It got little play in the Chicago and national media. Last summer some politicians (D) fled for Illinois to stall the legislation for that year’s session. But it was inevitable RTW would pass.

Less than 10% of workers in Indiana are employed by union shops so RTW did not generate much resistance from honest citizens in the state. Believe me, if there was a large amount of resistance it would not have passed. Most Hosiers know what the union shakedown is all about.

Time will tell if the RTW law will bring in new business or not, if it will bust unions or not. I think it’s worth the effort to find out.

Those who will be hurt most are the ultimate beneficiaries of union support. It will be organized crime and corrupt liberal politicians who count on that cash cow to deliver.


Dan from Madison said...

Indiana will do VERY well with its central location in the US. I would expect a LOT of companies to be looking at Indiana quickly to either relocate or move.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY! I don't have to pay extortion to WORK! FREEDOM!!!

Chris from Colorado said...

While you were a 'Burgers Better Bagger', I was in the Amalgamated Clothing Workers union while working at Steinberg & Baum. Later on, paid my dues to two of the local carpenters unions (one was a blatant case of extortion). Proud to say, despite paying the dues, I was never a union man, ever.

Jonathan said...

I couldn't get a grocery bagger's job because in my area they were union and you had to know someone, and I didn't. The entry-level nonunion jobs that I was able to get paid a lot less.

The Publix grocery chain here has employees who will load your groceries into your car and they also are not supposed to accept tips. I don't know if they'll get fired if they get caught accepting tips, though. That sounds pretty crazy.